16 minutes News

16 Minutes on the News #31: The Security and Privacy of Contact Tracing

Joel de la Garza and Sonal Chokshi

Posted May 22, 2020

While governments, policymakers, and employers around the world are all figuring out how to reopen the economy, contact tracing — which includes identifying and warning contacts of exposure in order to stop chains of transmission — is a key strategy for preventing further spread of a disease like COVID-19.

But approaches vary from manual to automated. And different regions have different frameworks, whether combined with GPS (location data) and CCTV as in South Korea — or mainly Bluetooth-based, as in Singapore and elsewhere. The players and apps also vary in whether they’re from corporations, grassroots/citizen efforts; employer-facing or for widespread public-health surveillance; or even just open vs. closed, decentralized vs. centralized, and so on.

So we break it all down in this week’s episode of 16 Minutes on the News with Joel de la Garza, in conversation with Sonal Chokshi, given headlines around Apple and Google’s approach, called “privacy-safe contact tracing”. What ARE the security and privacy concerns here? Yet technology is not the biggest part of this discussion; it’s also about rights, cultures, and values… and the bigger questions around what happens when people are “transformed into cellphone signals”.